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Midnight Mania! Conor McGregor’s coach dismisses 2017 return, wants Nate Diaz on St. Patrick’s Day

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John Kavanagh doesn’t claim to have the influence with McGregor’s decisions that you might think he would have, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming up matchups.

In his mind, the ideal return fight for Conor McGregor. would be the trilogy closer with Nate Diaz on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, in New York City. He also nixed rumors of a New Years Eve return for the Notorious. Via

“December 30th is definitely not happening,” John Kavanagh told Mike Sheridan at the launch of the Original Penguin AW17 collection.

“I don’t know how these things get started, but they have a certain way of gaining momentum.

“I can also tell you that his manager rang me this morning saying that him and Conor had been in meetings all day. Obviously, tomorrow is when we would start to consider the date.

“If it was my choice, and I must stress that this is only my choice and that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, it would be Nate Diaz in March,” Kavanagh continued. “That’s what I would push towards.

“I have in my head that it would be a Paddy’s Day card in New York, Nate Diaz 3. I think that would be absolutely amazing. That’s what I would wish for.

“That’s what I’ll be leaning towards with my 0.1 percent influence when I meet with Conor and Audie (Attar) tomorrow. I want Diaz 3, Paddy’s Day in New York.

“Obviously, it could still be Canelo in May,” Kavanagh added, laughing.

It remains unclear how McGregor would justify skipping over the interim lightweight title holder, which will be the winner of next weekend’s Ferguson-Lee matchup at UFC 216. However, Conor has a long history of playing by his own rules, and in Kavanagh’s mind the hype behind a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz would justify any means to get there.

“At the end of the second fight, [Diaz] came over and he was very respectful to me. Behind it all there’s a nod and wink and a mutual respect for the fighting,” Kavanagh explained.

“Now, in saying that, when it’s announced I’m sure that Conor’s going to be going at him and Nate will go back at him. At this stage, I mention Diaz and people are shouting, ‘What about Khabib?’ or, ‘What about Tony?’ ... And there’s Kevin Lee and some other guys, (people say) ‘They’re due their shot!’”

“Really, Conor doesn’t have to do that anymore. He won the featherweight belt, interim and unified. He won the lightweight belt. At this stage he’s only doing fights because they’re fun. A big fight build-up and to win that — that will do for me anyway.”

McGregor’s striking coach, the great Owen Roddy, concurred with Kavanagh on Diaz.

“I’d second that. I like the whole build-up of the Diaz brothers, it’s a bit mental and it’s exciting,” Roddy told Sheridan. “I think that’s why everybody likes to see those two guys fight. It’s just big when those guys start going back and forth. That’s what it’s all about.”

Kavanagh also thinks the stylistic matchup is one that guarantees fireworks. He is certainly correct on that score- both McGregor-Diaz 1 at UFC 196 and McGregor-Diaz II at UFC 202 were among the most entertaining of 2015. One could also make the claim that a fight with Tony Ferguson or Justin Gaethje would come with guaranteed excitement. Neither quite has the cache with MMA fans that Diaz has, though, and Kavanagh knows this. That unique build-up, perhaps the best rivalry in MMA today, sets Diaz apart.

“I always think that if I was develop a fighter that would give Conor his best or worst night, either way you look at it, I would come up with Nate Diaz,” Kavanagh said.

“He can walk through anything, he can match him somewhat in the trash talk and then you have the thing between Conor’s crew and his crew.

“For a bunch of reasons (Diaz is the right fight). It’s not just about being the right guy — that’s all amateur level. This is professional and it’s about entertainment.

“(MMA) is part sport, part entertainment and I just find it hard to think of a better build-up and a better show than that trilogy fight.”

I can’t say I would complain if McGregor got a third Diaz fight, but that’s also an evergreen bout. Diaz knows it is coming eventually and isn’t about to risk his payday by fighting anyone else; McGregor could win or lose his lightweight belt and a trilogy with Diaz would still draw huge numbers. I would prefer to see McGregor finally defend his title against the most legitimate opponent available, the winner of Ferguson-Lee.


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